Weekly Wrap-Up: Starting a New Year

College classes started for my husband and I on Monday, so I thought it would be a good day to start full-time schooling with the kids again. (We’ve been doing a couple of days a week during the summer to build up a buffer, but summer school is more relaxed.) We’re doing some botany this month, while we still have plants to go out and observe. As such, the books in this weekly wrap-up are all general introductions to plants.

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Crusade by David Weber and Steve White

Published: 1991

Genre: space opera science fiction

Length: 432 pages

Setting: various locations in outer space, far future

Interest: it was a random book picked off my Kindle while we were on vacation Continue reading

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The Lost City of Faar by D. J. MacHale

Published: 2003

Genre: YA fantasy

Length: 385 pages

Setting: Second Earth and Cloral, immediately after the events in the first book in the series, The Merchant of Death (which apparently I never reviewed).

Interest: It’s the second book in the Pendragon series. The family had listened to the first book in the series on a road trip, so when we needed an audio book for another road trip, this series was an obvious choice. We finally finished it driving to and from the airport from our trip to Seattle. Continue reading

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Existence by David Brin

Published: 2012

Genre: first contact science fiction

Length: 556 pages

Setting: near future Earth

Interest: I’d heard an audio version of one of the storylines in the novel on Escape Pod (Aficionado if you’re interested in listening). It was about the beginning of Uplift (a different series her wrote that I loved) and I was intrigued enough to track it down. Continue reading

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Area 54 by Hunter Liguore

Published: April, 2013 in Strange Horizons

Genre: science fiction, alien abduction

Length: 19 pages

Setting: various locations in the U.S., recent past

Interest: It was included in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: We follow the narrator, Kelly-Anne, as she goes along with her father on patrols and listening for Skylings broadcasts over the shortwave radio. Her father knows the Skylings are coming for him, but he’s prepared, and he’s preparing his daughter so she can also avoid abduction by the Skylings. Unfortunately, the mother is not as prepared and she is taken instead. This prompts a lifelong flight from the Skylings, who are always on the verge of catching up with them. The father is taken many years later and Kelly-Anne has to make her way back to one of her father’s old friends (who he’s pretty sure isn’t a Skyling in disguise) so she has somewhere safe to live until she comes of age. Soon enough, the Skylings come for her as well.

Final thoughts: I wasn’t impressed with this story. For one thing, Kelly-Anne refers to her parents as “Daddykins” and “Mommykins”, which I found completely off-putting. Here’s this highly adaptable, independent young woman who’s been on the run for years, and she refers to her equally capable father as Daddykins? Really? Every time I saw the word, I would get annoyed. Otherwise, it’s a pretty normal alien abduction story. The aliens are coming for her, and sure enough, despite everything she manages to do, they get her in the end. I didn’t find anything particularly new or refreshing in the story.

Title comes from: It’s a reference to Area 51. The narrator and her father called their special lookout location Area 54, since it was off 54th Street.

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A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Published: 1980

Genre: fiction

Length: 462 pages

Setting: New Orleans, probably 1950s

Interest: It’s a Pulitzer Prize winner

Summary: We follow a collection of individuals living in New Orleans, all centered around the character of Ignatius J. Reilly. There’s the policeman, Mancuso, who tried to arrest Ignatius, but ends up taking in the old man Claude Robichaux. Mancuso and his aunt become bowling buddies with Ignatius’ mother, and his aunt fixes up Mrs. Reilly with Mr. Robichaux. Then there’s Jones, a black man trying to avoid being picked up for vagrancy so he works for cheap at the bar where Ignatius and his mother spent a night drinking. Ignatius has spent much of his life contemplating writing a novel and going to movies to complain, but his mother finally decides it’s time for him to get a job. It does not go well. Ignatius’ idea of working in no way matches his employers’ expectations. Ignatius of course believes his opinions are the epitome of culture and everyone else is deluded.

Final thoughts: I enjoyed seeing all the connections between the characters, with Ignatius at the center of everything. He was a larger-than-life character in every sense of the word. He never just talked – he thundered and bellowed. And MY GOD – not THAT way, you imbecile! He was physically very imposing as well, mainly because he liked to drown his sorrows in food (which lead to very low profits when he was in charge of a hot dog stand). Everyone was a bit of a caricature, each in their own amusing way. Ignatius was probably my least favorite of them all because he was so abrasive, but I was always impressed how long he could get others to go along with his delusions.

Title comes from: All the characters together could be considered a confederacy of dunces

Awards won: Pulitzer Prize in 1981

Reading challenges fulfilled: 55/100 in my Finally to 100 Challenge, and 11/12 in my Award Winning Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro

Published: 1995

Genre: science fiction

Length: 357 pages

Setting: various Trader and Skolian planets, far future

Interest: It was a random book picked off my Kindle based solely on the title Continue reading

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